Deadline nears for victims to file in Baltimore Catholic Church case: 'A survivor's last chance'

Alex Mann, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Religious News

BALTIMORE — Born into a family of devout Catholics, Marc Floto was almost destined to be an altar boy at his local church, the former Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baltimore County.

So when he was 5 or 6 years old, his parents “pretty much pushed” him to do just that. But they had no idea about the life-altering consequences that came with that commitment, said Floto, 62.

“When I was an altar boy, I used to go to the rectory … to get dressed in our robes and that, to get ready for Mass,” he said in an interview. “I don’t recall when, but things progressed from the priest touching me, to fondling me, amongst other things.”

Floto lives near Westminster and owns a towing business now; he’s married and has a son. But being abused as a child, he said, “caused turmoil every step of” his life. He chokes up when he explains the impact of what he endured, from persistent anger and trust issues to being overprotective of those he holds dear.

Like many survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Maryland, Floto was preparing last fall to sue the Archdiocese of Baltimore, but had to change course when the church declared bankruptcy. He is one of hundreds who has submitted a “proof of claim” form in the archdiocese’s case ahead of a Friday deadline for victims to add themselves to a list for future compensation.

Known as a “bar date,” the deadline is “really a survivor’s last chance to file against the bankrupt entity, which in this case is the Baltimore diocese,” said attorney Adam Slater, whose firm represents Floto and other victims. “I encourage anybody with a claim, or anybody who was sexually abused, to please come forward, because this is most likely your last chance.”


Slater called the midnight Friday deadline “part of the cruelty of the bankruptcy process” because it limits the period survivors have to pursue legal recourse, effectively sidestepping the groundbreaking law Maryland enacted last year that erased time restraints for abuse lawsuits in state court.

The Child Victims Act followed the release of a state attorney general report that said 156 clergy and other church officials tormented more than 600 children and young adults, dating to the 1940s. The abuse spanned Baltimore and the nine counties in Central and Western Maryland that make up the diocese’s jurisdiction.

Anticipating hundreds of lawsuits, the church chose to protect its assets and limit its liability by filing for bankruptcy Sept. 29, two days before the law took effect. Church officials said bankruptcy would allow the archdiocese to compensate all victims, rather than providing immense sums of money to a few, while continuing its mission.

The church’s decision meant survivors’ potential lawsuits had to be reconfigured into proof-of-claim forms and supporting documents. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michelle M. Harner set the May 31 deadline for such claims, requiring the archdiocese to publicize that date. The church advertised on news platforms and put the word out in its parishes, among other means.


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